A Hong Kong court has rejected on national security grounds a bail application from a man charged with sedition over online messages and with possessing offensive weapons and unlicensed radio communication equipment.

West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Raymond Chen, 53, appeared before Principal Magistrate Peter Law at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday, one day before the city’s Handover anniversary.

He is accused of committing acts with seditious intent over the statements, photos and posters he published on Telegram between July 20, 2020 and June 10 this year.

The defendant is also charged with possessing offensive weapons, as well as apparatus for radio communications without a licence.

The principal magistrate denied Chen’s bail application, ruling that there were insufficient grounds to believe that Chen would not continue to engage in acts endangering national security if bailed.

As the hearing ended, Chen kept waving to his mother and refused to leave. Officers had to drag him away from the courtroom.

Materials seized by the police in relation to three imitation firearms cases on June 27, 2022. Photo: Hong Kong Police Force, via Facebook.

The defendant will appear in court on July 8 for a review of his bail status. Separately, the magistrate granted an adjournment until August 25 as requested by the prosecution for further police investigations.

Arrests run-up to July 1

In total, the city’s national security police arrested seven people for sedition and other offences in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the Handover.

Chen was detained by national security police on Sunday. Officers found three military knives and two radio communication devices after searching his home at Taikoo Shing.

He was originally scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, but was in hospital at that time.

Another man, aged 31, was also arrested on the same day with Chen. According to local media reports, he was released on police bail and must report to a police station in early July.

Under court reporting restrictions, written and broadcast reports are limited to the result of bail proceedings, the name of the person applying for bail and their lawyer, and the offence concerned.

Government banners about the national security law. File photo: GovHK.

The sedition law was last amended in the 1970s during the city’s colonial era. Although it is not a part of the national security law implemented by Beijing in 2020, Hong Kong’s top court has ruled that the stricter bail threshold under the security law may also apply in sedition cases.

The threshold requires courts to consider whether there are sufficient grounds for believing a defendant released on bail would not continue to commit acts endangering national security.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.